British grocery Sainsbury's has requested the package for its archives.

By Mike Pomranz
June 18, 2020
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One man’s trash certainly can be another man’s treasure—but that expression probably doesn’t hold true when we’re talking about 33-year-old fish. So maybe that explains why someone happily gave a British food bank a tin of anchovies to with a “best before” date of April 1987.

Credit: etorres69/Getty Images

Last week, the Norwich Foodbank in Norfolk, England, posted a couple of photos of a 1.76-ounce box of fillets of anchovies in oil with the over three-decade-old expiration date to its Twitter account with the reminder, “Please check dates before you donate.” The fish were packaged and sold by the popular U.K. grocery chain Sainsbury’s and still had the original price tag: 49p or about 60 cents at the modern exchange rate.

“We couldn't quite believe it,” volunteer Hannah Wordsley—who was born just one year before the fish expired—told the BBC. “We've had out of date stuff before and up until yesterday the record was something from the 1990s.” She also said that Sainsbury’s has since asked for the old fish for its archive—because, yes, apparently one food bank’s trash is a grocery chain’s treasure.

Wordsley also mentioned that the food bank does keep an eye on all the food that comes through their doors, but they don’t mind a bit of help. “We check dates on all products,” she said, “and we do urge everyone who donates to check what they're giving before putting in the donation baskets or bringing to us.”

Exceedingly old food donations are uncommon, but far from unheard of. For instance, in 2017, a food bank made headlines after receiving a can of Heinz Kidney Soup that, based on its price tag, dated back to at least 1971. That can was donated to the Cardiff Foodbank in Wales, the BBC reported. Yes, England and Wales have a bit of a rivalry going, but you’d think they could find something a bit less off-putting to compete over.